Many rail services will be cancelled over three days of strike action this week caused by the long-running row over maintaining guards on trains.
The strike action is timed to take place in the week when most people go back to school and work after the Christmas holiday, and will clearly have an impact on employees’ ability to get to work.
Here are some FAQs concerning the major issues from Peninsula Employment Law and HR Director Alan Price –
What if my employee cannot get to work?
Speak to the employee and see if any alternative arrangements can be made. For example:
• Working from home (this may only be viable if the employee is set up to work from home i.e. working from home will not significantly adversely affect productivity)
• Agree a period of annual leave
• Enforce annual leave (notice must be given of this; employer must give notice that is twice the length of the annual leave to be enforced i.e. two days’ notice of one day of leave. So technically, notice of Tuesday and Wednesday is needed to enforce annual leave on Thursday; Wednesday and Thursday is needed to enforce annual leave on Friday)
• Permit the employee to use any time off in lieu they have banked
The employee will be paid as normal if any of the above are used. Alternatively, arrange a temporary period of flexible working of earlier or later starts according to what may be more practical because of the trains. This may mean a week of unpleasant disruption for the employee but i) that is the effect intended by a strike but ii) employers are within their rights to expect that contractual obligations are still met if the employee wants to be paid as normal. Employers may be seen as the ‘bad guy’ if they cannot be flexible but the strike is not their fault.
Do I need to pay the employee if they are late?
Unless employees have a contractual right to be paid when they are late, employees are not entitled to be paid for time they have missed because they are late. Employers could arrange with the employee for the time to be made up elsewhere to maintain full pay.
What about my employees who are parents of children whose school is shut because teachers can’t get to work?
Employees have a right to take time off for dependants when the normal care arrangements for their children break down, while they try to make other arrangements. Therefore, time off for dependants should normally last no more than 2 days per instance and employers should agree with the employee how the rest of the time, should they need it, is to be categorised.